The internal dynamics of a non-state conflict actor. The organisational resources and internal legitimacy of the FARC-EP in Colombia
AuthorBorch, Guri Waalen
Being the largest guerrilla group in Colombia and entitled the richest guerrilla group of the world, the FARC-EP constitutes the most important non-state conflict actor of the Colombian internal conflict. In recent years it has been recognised in conflict research that non-state actors must be taken seriously if we want to understand today’s internal conflicts. This is the starting point for my analysis of the FARC-EP. Whereas much contemporary research focuses on the economic agendas of conflict actors, the attention in this thesis is on how different organisational resources together reflect a social order of violence beyond the state that embraces both political, economic and symbolic elements. It asks the question of how organisational resources relate to and define internal legitimacy. Drawing upon Christopher Clapham and his notion of organisational effectiveness, indicators such as a clearly defined political project, effective structures and educated leaders will be employed as guiding lines in the empirical study of the FARC-EP. The grounds of the internal legitimacy of the FARC-EP will be established by combining these indicators with insight on the role of self-legitimation of rebels and Max Weber’s typology of domination. The most effective self-legitimating arguments of an organisation may indeed reflect its most important organisational resources. By way of looking into the FARC-EP’s self-legitimation, I find that one of its most important organisational resources is its historical memory. The FARC-EP’s sense of collective destiny is tied to stories of past suffering, in which the leader of the organisation holds a special position. As regards economic resources, there has been created a “revolutionary mysticism” of the way that economic resources are delegated, as well as a tight control over their management. Hence, the FARC-EP has managed to keep the economic resources a strength to the organisation, rather than a source of serious splits. This thesis shows that in addition to internal structures, political project and level of education and coherence, effective self-legitimating arguments should be given special attention in order to understand the grounds of internal legitimacy of a specific non-state conflict actor.
PublisherUniversitetet i Tromsø
University of Tromsø
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Copyright 2006 The Author(s)
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